We have often been asked to describe what has been instrumental in enabling us to have such a successful long term relationship. This section of the website summarises the main factors that we concluded were instrumental in enabling us to succeed where so many others have failed. All the factors described here are those that we have chosen to use as guides for relating to each other. Our experience as couples counsellors and therapists suggests that many of them may have general application. We have divided the ideas into three broad categories.
The first category is the Principles by which we manage our relationship. In particular these are the principles that we use to resolve our arguments and avoid creating difficulties for ourselves. These are, in our view, the most important and general factors that we have uncovered – by which we mean we expect most successful relationships to use these principles. There are 25 Principles. Rather than present them as one long list I have divided them into three sub-sections: Core Principles, Relating Principles and Other Principles. If you would prefer to download the file of all the principles, with some suggestions about how to make use of them, click here (Relationship Principles).
The second category is called Strategies and reflects the ways in which we have coped with the perennial problems that arise in intimate relationships, things like handling money together and potential career conflicts. It seems to us that the strategies that work in a particular relationship are more likely to depend upon the combination of personalities and life circumstances. This means that we do not expect the Strategies to be as widely applicable as the Principles. Nevertheless we envisage, and hope, that other couples will gain benefit from hearing how we have addressed these fairly universal issues. Again you can download the complete list here (Relationship Strategies) if you wish.
The third category we have called the Fundamentals. One question that we were asked was not answered by any of the Principles or Strategies, namely “what got you through the really difficult times?” In the middle of an awful row, where both of us are hurt, upset, angry and contemplating leaving, what is it that persuades us to stay in relationship, face our stuff and hence move to a deeper level of intimacy? This is the subject addressed in this third category. We think that what keeps couples together under extreme duress is likely to be unique to each couple, but you might find it helpful to hear what has worked for us. The download is here Relationship Fundamentals.
If you want to use this material to develop your own relationship I suggest that you read through all the items and make a note of any that either strike you as a good idea, or just as odd, or that are not included in your relationship. Ask your partner to do the same. Then compare your lists and discuss the items you have each listed. If you decide to try out any of the material discuss how you are going to do this. In particular specify the duration of any trial period, how you can easily (and kindly) remind each other of the issue involved and how you will decide whether it has been successful or not.